Tuesday 12 January 2016
Torquay Magistrates' Court
The petition of the residents of Torbay,
Declares that the closure of Torquay Magistrates’ Court will have a detrimental impact on court users and a wider implication that justice is no longer to be decided at a local level by local people. The closure will mean that victims, witnesses and those accused will have to travel much further to achieve justice.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to reconsider the proposed closure of services in Torquay and commit to keeping justice local in the Bay.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Kevin Foster, Official Report, 25 November 2015; Vol. 602, c. 1456.]
Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Shailesh Vara):
The consultation on the provision of court and tribunals services in England and Wales ran from 16 July to 8 October 2015. HM Courts & Tribunals Service is currently in the process of assessing all responses to the consultation and I expect to announce the outcome in due course. I have asked HM Courts & Tribunals Service officials to record the points and suggestions made in the petition so that they can be fully considered as part of the consultation process.
The HM Courts & Tribunals Service Reform Programme is a once in a generation opportunity to create a modern, user focused and efficient courts and tribunals service. As part of this programme, on 16 July 2015 I announced proposals for the reform of the court and tribunal estate.
Whilst HM Courts & Tribunals Service acknowledge and accept that some people will need to travel further to reach their nearest court and for some the journey, if made by public transport, may be over an hour, for the majority of people the closure will have little impact. We are mindful of the infrequency with which people need to attend court and the small proportion of people who would use public transport to reach court.
Access to justice is not just about proximity to a court. We are committed to providing alternatives to travel, for example through making better use of technology, including video conferencing, and exploring whether we can appropriately make use of civic buildings for certain types of hearing.